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Physics  2015 

Is Dust Cloud around $λ$ Orionis a Ring or a Shell, or Both?

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Abstract:

The dust cloud around $\lambda$ Orionis is observed to be circularly symmetric with a large angular extent ($\approx$ 8 degrees). However, whether the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the cloud is shell- or ring-like has not yet been fully resolved. We study the 3D structure using a new approach that combines a 3D Monte Carlo radiative transfer model for ultraviolet (UV) scattered light and an inverse Abel transform, which gives a detailed 3D radial density profile from a two-dimensional column density map of a spherically symmetric cloud. By comparing the radiative transfer models for a spherical shell cloud and that for a ring cloud, we find that only the shell model can reproduce the radial profile of the scattered UV light, observed using the S2/68 UV observation, suggesting a dust shell structure. However, the inverse Abel transform applied to the column density data from the Pan-STARRS1 dust reddening map results in negative values at a certain radius range of the density profile, indicating the existence of additional, non-spherical clouds near the nebular boundary. The additional cloud component is assumed to be of toroidal ring shape; we subtracted from the column density to obtain a positive, radial density profile using the inverse Abel transform. The resulting density structure, composed of a toroidal ring and a spherical shell, is also found to give a good fit to the UV scattered light profile. We therefore conclude that the cloud around $\lambda$ Ori is composed of both ring and shell structures.

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